Left New York after medical board sanction, faces new allegations in Wisconsin

by John Fauber Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today

A University of Wisconsin-Madison plastic surgeon who was the subject of a sexual misconduct case in New York before being hired by the university has been accused in a lawsuit of sexual exploitation and medical negligence in his care of a woman who had undergone cosmetic surgery procedures by him last year.

The patient, Keri Anne Connaughty of Wausau, Wisconsin, had gone to UW plastic surgeon John Siebert, MD, for a tummy tuck and breast augmentation surgery.

Her lawsuit, which was filed Friday in Dane County Circuit Court, also says she experienced pain, swelling, and bleeding from her abdomen after the surgery.

When she went to see Siebert about the problems, he allegedly put his hands on her shoulders and said he would do anything to make her happy. He also said her breasts merely appeared larger because of swelling.

The lawsuit claims he also called her “babe.” At a visit a few days later he allegedly called her “sweetie.”

When she cried while he inserted a drain in her abdomen wound, he wiped the tears from her face and placed his hands on her bare legs and rubbed them up and down, the lawsuit says.

UW Health Transformations also was named as a defendant. It was accused of negligence in hiring Siebert and for allegedly failing to inform patients of Siebert’s past discipline.

UW Health spokeswoman Lisa Brunette said it does not publicly comment on pending litigation.

In filing the lawsuit, Connaughty said in a statement, “I am advocating for others so no one has to experience what I did.” Her lawsuit says she is married and has three children. She is described as an avid marathon runner, triathlete, and boxer who was dissatisfied with her appearance.

In a separate statement, her attorney, Robert Gingras, said: “We hope to make medical institutions be more forthright with their patients.”

Siebert was included in a February 2018 investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today about doctors who move around the country after facing disciplinary action.

The investigation found Siebert had sex with a patient in New York, got his license suspended for three years, and was permanently ordered to have a chaperone in the room with any female patients.

It noted that he operated free of state medical board restrictions in Wisconsin. In fact, he was appointed to an endowed chair at UW, funded in part by billionaire Diane Hendricks, a Siebert patient and a major political contributor to former Gov. Scott Walker.

From 2000 to 2008, Siebert performed multiple surgeries at New York University Medical Center on a woman with whom he had a sexual relationship during 2006-2008. An investigation began in 2009 and New York disciplined Siebert for the relationship in 2013.

His “inappropriate intimate relationship” was determined to be professional misconduct and his license in New York was suspended for three years. The board stayed the suspension and put Siebert on probation.

After New York imposed the chaperone requirement in 2013, UW-Madison worked out its own such requirement with Siebert, but unlike New York’s, which is permanent, the UW requirement could be reopened in the future.

After New York’s disciplinary action, the Wisconsin medical board looked into the case and decided to put no restrictions on his license.

While New York said Siebert showed a “moral unfitness to practice,” Wisconsin officials described his sex with a patient as “a minor or technical violation” that was “not seriously harmful to the public.”

In the 2018 Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today story, Siebert said the incident in New York “was a mistake that I made and for which I have accepted responsibility and followed all requirements. I am proud I’ve been given the opportunity to move ahead and provide the care that I was trained to give.”

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Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master's of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen - two daughters-in-law; Suzy and Katie - two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia - and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, two rescue pups, and two guinea pigs.

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